“He does not let go of my hand; the little silver box I hold creates a barrier between us even as another one breaks.”
In this moment, Cassia observes how the platonic boundary that has always divided Xander and her no longer exists. As Matches, Xander and Cassia have full liberty to explore a romantic relationship, a notion that had never really occurred to either prior to the Matching. There is irony, however, in the way the silver box continues to create a “barrier” between them, as it is the microcard inside the box that ultimately displays Ky’s face and creates difficulty in Cassia and Xander’s relationship.
“…As the society reminds us, there’s a difference between knowledge and technology. Knowledge doesn’t fail us.”
Evident throughout Ally Condie’s descriptions of the dystopian Society in Matched is that human contribution is highly valuable, though heavily regulated. While Cassia lives in a world of technology far more advanced than our own, continued reliance on human intellect is testament to a preference of order and peace over blind efficiency. It also speaks to the roots from which the Society came, as Cassia talks of an apparent overabundance of technology in the old days that overwhelmed the population and caused “disastrous consequences.” The modern Society in which the story takes place seeks to avoid such a fate by placing importance on specific areas of expertise for each citizen to help run their communities, while simultaneously taking advantage of the tendency of this system to prevent any one person from knowing too much.
“I wish she hadn’t told me about Ky. I won’t be able to look at him the same way again, now that I know too much about him.”
Cassia’s regret of knowing Ky’s confidential Aberration status speaks to her conditioning to have no familiarity with knowledge that she is not instructed to have. Each citizen is directed to only have a certain amount of knowledge in their own area, as well as with respect to others’ identities. Cassia's discomfort at knowing Ky's status is therefore to be expected. This quote additionally foreshadows the relationship Cassia ultimately establishes with Ky; knowing that he was suggested as a potential Match, however briefly, permanently changed her view of him.
“Grandfather is the one who finally made me stop sitting at the edge of the pool.”
More than just the memory of learning to jump off the diving board, Cassia’s words here reference the courage that her grandfather has instilled in her, courage that she employs as the story escalates. It is a direct metaphor for the profound effect that he had on her, both during his life and after his Final Banquet.
“I say nothing. I ask no questions. I turn away. This is who I am. But not who Grandfather thought you could be.”
Cassia’s initial reaction to seeing Ky cry demonstrates her personality near the beginning of the book: one of blind acceptance, reliance on the usual, and unquestioning belief in what the Society tells her. However, this is the first moment where her grandfather’s words begin to affect her, playing on her doubts and helping to her become someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions. This change develops further as the book goes on.
“If I had kept the poems from Grandfather, I’d be riding on a flood that I couldn’t stop. I did what I had to do; I did the right thing. But it is as though the rain outside pours on me, too, eroding my relief and leaving only regret: The poems are gone, and I can never get them back.”
Cassia experiences a strong, dichotomous conflict at having disposed of the poems her grandfather revealed to her in her compact. She likens the wave of unordered thinking, doubt, and wonder to a great, unstoppable flood. She feels that it was right to stop herself from entertaining these notions. Simultaneously, however, the feelings of regret that she is left with create a flood of their own: one of erosion and loss. This conflict demonstrates her inner turmoil at wanting to abide by the Society’s rules and not cause trouble, especially after seeing what trouble looked like when her father lost her grandfather’s tissue sample, and also wanting to be able to wonder and think freely as her grandfather encouraged her to do.
“Only when I hold onto nothing can I be the best, only then can I be what they expect me to be.”
During her supervised sort, Cassia observes that the only way for her to be the compliant, excelling citizen that the Society wants her to be is to separate herself from all the things she cares about: Ky, the forbidden poetry, and her doubts about the Society. While sorting, she is capable of this feat, but outside of the sorting cubicle, where she must be distracted by the things she considers most important, she realizes that she cannot be what the Society expects of her.
“This is the difference between [me and Ky]. I live to sort; he knows how to create. He can write words whenever he wants. He can swirl them in the grass, write them in the sand, carve them in a tree.”
This quote establishes perhaps the most important distinction between Ky and Cassia. For much of the book, Cassia represents everything the Society wants in an individual: lack of ability to write, create, or have any originality at all. Ky offers her the chance to change that by being just the opposite, and is willing to teach her what he knows. In this way, he is the enabler that allows her to be more than she currently is -- she is being who her grandfather knew she could be.
“Being with Ky, being with Xander—both things feel like standing in the light. Different types of light, but neither feels dark.”
The ways in which Cassia views Xander and Ky throughout the book are very important: though her relationship with Ky causes conflict for her, and her Match to Xander complicates her love for Ky, she sees neither boy as the root of her problems. Rather, they both remain positive presences in her life, just in different ways. Ky represents romance, passion, danger, and a potentially happy Match. Xander represents friendship, safety, comfort, but a lackluster Match that might ultimately be missing something. Neither boy is her enemy; they are just different kinds of allies.
“I did not expect to love his words. I did not expect to find myself in them. Is falling in love with someone’s story the same thing as falling in love with the person himself?”
In this moment, Cassia is contemplating the way in which she fell in love with Ky. Their relationship began out of her sheer curiosity about the life of the boy who accidentally appeared on her microcard. She wanted to know what made him so different, and in the process, she came to realize how much affection she harbored for him. She wonders, then, whether her love for him stems from the stories he told her, or from the person that those stories made of him.
“I feel disgust when I think of how we climb our little hills when the Officials say the word. How we hand over our most precious items at their bidding. How we never, ever fight.”
The quote is a metaphor for the unquestioned, obedient lives that the Society’s citizens live. For the first time in her life, Cassia feels disgust for herself and everyone like her for complying with such a subordinate existence. She identifies the Official who looks down on them, seeing them as they are: slaves that don’t fight back. This emotionality stems in part from the grief accompanying the recent confiscation of her and everyone else’s artifacts, their most precious possessions.
“I’ve been thinking in terms of absolutes; first, I believed our Society was perfect. The night they came for our artifacts, I believed it was evil. Now I simply don’t know.”
As the story progresses, Cassia wonders what to think about her Society. At the beginning of the book, she believed it could do no wrong, given the way it relied on data and statistics to put its citizens best interests first. As she becomes more aware of their wrongdoings, particularly the taking of everyone’s artifacts, her opinion reverses, and she sees the Society as the ultimate enemy (an opinion which she has at the end of the book as well). However, by Chapter 21, she doubts her absolute thinking. Perhaps, she reasons, the Society’s agenda is more nuanced than total compassion or total apathy: perhaps it is something in between those two extremes.
“The two desires struggle within me: the desire to be safe, and the desire to know. I cannot tell which one will win.”
So many of Cassia’s conflicts stem from her desire to know things that the Society doesn’t want her to know. The Society’s restrictions on information are a key part of its existence: workers know only one area of expertise, and no one knows anything about poems, paintings, songs, or stories that the Society does not allow them to encounter. So when Cassia gains access to the kinds of things she isn’t supposed to know, from Ky’s Aberration status to his past in the Outer Provinces, she wrestles with her own curiosity. To allow herself to know them is to defy her country, and she isn't yet sure whether this knowledge is worth defiance.
Matched Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Matched is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.